During a trip to France, it is often possible to use the Wi-Fi connection of the hotel you’re staying at. Additionally, some public places such as train stations and cafés now offer a free Wi-Fi connection. But since it is hard to predict what we might need at a designated moment of the trip and it can be hard to get access to the internet at any moment, here are some effective tips to get a SIM card and telephone credit for the duration of your visit.
Important note: Since June 15th, 2017, mobile roaming fees have been cancelled in Europe. So, if you live in the European Union, you will now be able to use your data without any additional costs during your trip to France (or another country of the EU). Be careful though, this law is only valid in the European Union and is not applicable to countries like America, Africa, and Asia, or even countries like Turkey or Switzerland (which are situated in Europe but are not part of the European Union). Also, remember to be mindful of your data consumption: your data limit might be reduced while you’re abroad. For example, if you have a bundle with 20GB of internet data, you might only be able to use 5GB of data abroad, and will be surcharged if you exceed the limit. This law is also applicable to prepaid SIM cards (the conditions are to be seen with your telephone operator).
Other element to take into account : the network coverage. Actually, depending on where you are in France, some operators might offer a better coverage than their competitors, whether for standard data (voice and text) or for internet data. We will develop this at the end of the article.
For European citizens, it is therefore not necessary to buy a French SIM card before travelling to France, but be very careful to the terms and conditions of your operator to avoid being caught off-guard.
For others, here are the different offers by French phone companies, created especially for tourists:
1) Orange Holiday
Orange, one of the main French phone operators, offers a prepaid SIM card conceived for tourists. Under the name of “Orange Holiday”, Orange offers a SIM card for €39.99, with a French phone number, 2 hours of calls and 1000 texts (from Europe to the world) as well as 10GB of Internet in Europe. The initial plan is valid for 14 days starting from the first call or SMS.
You want more? You just need to buy a top-up card to get 1 hour of calls, 500 texts and 500 MB (also for 14 days) for €20. But it is also possible to top-up with any Orange prepaid card, which you can find in supermarkets and tobacco shops. They are easy to find since they are used by the locals as well.
Are you doing a trip around Europe? Good news, this bundle can be used in all the countries of the European Union.
You will find the Orange Holiday card and the top-ups in Orange shops (link in French), tobacco shops, gas stations, and supermarkets. You will also find them in Relay shops in the airports. The booklet that comes with it will be able to guide you since it comes in five different languages.
You can also book this SIM card through Travel Wifi and get deliver at your hotel or at your house in Europe and Asia (allow at least 7 to 10 days before your trip). Otherwise you can directly pick it up at Travel Wifi office in the center of Paris (3rd district).
2) The Travel Wifi SIM card
The startup Travel Wifi also started their own SIM card. It uses Vodafone networks and offers 50Gb of data (can be used in all Europe). Calls, SMS, MMS are all unlimited. Price is €49 for 14 days. It’s possible to top it up if you go over the data limit (€3.5/day).
For shorter stays, it is possible to book it for €24.90. The validity is 7 days and the data available 20Go.
This offer is ideal if you usually consume a lot of data and if you plan to travel to several countries in Europe.
This SIM card can be picked up at both Paris airports (at the Tourism Information Desk), at Travel Wifi offices in the center of Paris or can be delivered directly to your hotel or at your house in Europe or Asia (allow 7 to 10 days before your trip).
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3) Welcome Package by SFR
Another leader of the phone operators market is SFR, which offers a “Welcome Package” that includes a French SIM card with 1 hour of calls and 500 texts (to Europe, China or North America) as well as 2GB of Internet. All of this is available for 14 days and for a cost of €34.99. For an extra €20, you can top-up with 1 hour of calls, 500 texts and 1GB of data.
You can find the Welcome Package in SFR shops (link in French), tobacco shops, Relay shops and supermarkets. You will also find them in airports.
4) SFR La Carte Illimitée
At SFR’s, you can also order a SIM card at €3.99 and buy a top-up online or in a supermarket. You will find several top-up options:
For €20.99 you will get a bundle with unlimited texts and calls and 1GB of internet.
For €10 you will have 8GB of internet.
Those top-ups last for a month.
The SIM card must be ordered online (link in French) or bought in an SFR shop (link in French). The top-ups can be ordered online or bought in SFR shops, in supermarkets or in Relay shops (including in airports).
This website offers the purchase of prepaid SIM cards to use in France.
With a delivery of 7 to 10 days in Europe and 12 to 15 days for the rest of the world, you will have a SIM card as soon as you arrive in France. You can do everything online: choose the offer you’re most interested in and place your order right away. For the tourists on French territory, this company offers, for €35, a SIM card and a bundle of €30, which allows you to make calls, send texts in France and use the internet. The advantage is that you can use the €30 however you want to. Moreover, this bundle has unlimited validity!
If you only need the internet data, another offer based on the same principle can be better for you: a SIM card with a bundle of 1GB of data, for €19.99 only. Please note that for this option, the validity is only 90 days.
No more credit? Don’t worry, you just need to connect to the LeFrenchMobile website (at a place that offers Wi-Fi) to top-up your SIM card with the amount you wish to (1GB will cost you €15 and 5GB €39). You should note that this website also offers plans that work in all of Europe.
6) Lyca Mobile
The website Lyca Mobile also offers prepaid SIM cards, for you to spend your holidays without the stress of not being able to use your phone. You will order directly on the website and will receive your SIM card at home in just a few days. Among many different bundles, we selected two just for you:
The Pass National M offers unlimited calls and texts in France, as well as 6GB of Internet for only €14.99. The bundle is valid for 30 days. Please note that calls and texts towards international countries are not included in the bundle and will be surcharged.
The World Pass, for €29.99, offers a bundle with unlimited calls toward international countries (countries of Europe, North America, and China), unlimited texts in France and 12GB of Internet. This bundle is also valid for 30 days.
Now, you only need to choose according to your budget and your taste!
To help you choose, we gathered all the different characteristics into a chart below.
Bonus : the Pocket Travel Wifi Hotspot
This one is a bit different because it is not a SIM card. The startup Travel Wifi allow you to rent a portable wifi hotspot that can be used in France and around the world. You will be having 500MB/day or an unlimited connexion and a private secure 4G network wherever you are (calls and SMS/MMS are not possible, but Apps like Messenger or WhatsApp can be used). Travel Wifi Hotspots are convenient for families, groups or friends travelling together as the connection is shareable up to 10 devices (tablet, smartphone, laptop) as well as for solo travelers who like to keep their independence.
After booking your Travel Wifi you will receive a complete Travel Case including the hotspot, user manual, charger, return envelope.
You can either self pick-up directly your Travel Wifi Hotspot from their office in Paris center, at Paris airports (CDG or Orly) and Tourism Information Desks in Paris or even get it deliver straight to your hotel/accomodation.
The hotspot is starting from €4/day.
Enjoy a 5% exclusive discount with the code France_Hotel_Guide
Comparative of the solutions of French SIM cards for the tourists:
|Price||Calls||Texts||Internet||Validity||Where to buy it|
|Orange Holiday||€39.99||2 h||1000||10GB||14 days||Shop or online|
|Travel Wifi SIM card||€49||unlimited||unlimited||50GB||14 days||Shop or online|
|Welcome Package (SFR)||€24.99||1 h||500||2GB||14 days||Shop or online|
|SFR La Carte||3.99 + €20.99
3.99 + €10
|Shop or online|
|Unlimited in France
|Unlimited in France
|Travel Wifi Hotspot
||from €4/day||None (but Apps like WhatsApp or Messenger can be used)||None||500Mb/day to unlimited||customizable||Online or Shop|
The mobile phone coverage :
Depending on where you are in France, the strength of your mobile signal can vary, going from a full coverage for some operators to “white areas” for others. It is therefore important to get information beforehand on the quality of the network coverage in the region where you will be staying at, so you don’t get caught off-guard in case of emergency, and thus choose the operator that has the best network.
To make sure you will have a satisfying network once you will be in France, you can refer to this general map for main operators’ network coverage in France :
Moreover, this is an interactive map; go to the dedicated ARCEP website, and you will be able to check how is the coverage like region by region and even city by city, depending on the different French operators. Just use the search bar in the right top corner, over the map.
When taking the example of Paris, here are the results :
For Orange :
For SFR :
For Bouygues :